The long weekend is here and if you’re still wondering where and how to spend it without burning a hole in your pocket, our recommendation is Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. The essence of Asia can be truly felt in these two cities.
You’ve seen it, and you’ve heard a million travel bloggers talk about it. Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are buzzing with an urban vibe with their skyscrapers, delicious street food, vibrant and chaotic vendors and commuters. But, on the other hand, both these cities are also historical and cultural hubs, as well as heavens to rekindle your spiritual journey.
Getting There In Style
There are several direct flights from Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Tiruchirappalli, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and other cities in India to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. If you are looking for great offers on flights, head to the AirAsia website for some awesome deals. The airline currently has its Sunsational Summer Sale going on and return fares start from Rs. 4,499. Hurry, as tickets are selling out fast.
Stay Like It’s Home
Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur offer travellers a variety of accommodations. If you are the kind who’s into luxury, check out hotels in the Wattana, Bang Rak and Khlong Toei areas in Bangkok, while Bukit Bintang, Jalan Tengah and Jalan Stesen Sentral are home to some of the most renowned luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur. If you don’t want to stay in the city and want to enjoy nature, then look for villas and hotels in Petaling Jaya and Putrajaya.
For a quick in-and-out budget stay, both these cities have ample guest houses, hostels and mid-range hotels.
Eat Like A Local
When in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, you’re almost spoilt for choice. The local cuisine combines the best of the world, and evolutions and fusions galore. The street food will leave your appetite satiated, of course. Try a Pla Pao (grilled fish served with lime-based chilli sauce) or a Khao Pad (traditional Thai dish of fried rice served with chicken, shrimps or crabs). Other must-haves are Gai Moo Ping (quintessential chicken/pork skewers served with dried chilli sauce); Hoy Tod (an omelette with oysters—just make sure they’re fresh); Khao Niew Ma Muang (fresh mangoes with coconut sticky rice). Of course, you will get a whole range of fusion cuisines—Thai meets French, Malaysian meets Mughlai and everything in between.
Take In The Sights
Let’s take Bangkok first. No trip is complete without a visit to the city’s Chinatown, which is at once chaotic and exhilarating. The narrow lanes are loaded with gold shops and you should head to the Golden Buddha for some delectable food, while you jostle for a foothold with very polite locals. Then, head to the Grand Palace that is home to the holiest shrine in Bangkok, the Wat Phra Kaew temple. This houses the 26-inch tall Emerald Buddha. Nearby, the Jam Factory hosts exhibitions and has become the central point for the local underground art scene. Other places to visit in Bangkok include the Wat Arun temple, Lumpini Park for some scintillating Muay Thai action, and the Soy Sauce Factory.
In Kuala Lumpur, though you can visit the popular tourist destinations like the KL Tower, Aquaria KLCC and Berjaya Times Square Indoor Theme Park, you should also visit Malacca. A day-tour to this UNESCO-listed city is a reminder of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialism. You can follow this up with a morning KL Heritage tour, which includes the famous Central Market that is full of tales of the old city. You really wouldn’t want to miss it. KL also has its own Chinatown, which is also authentic and worth a visit.
Get Your Shopper On
In Bangkok, apart from all the regular night and flea markets, head to the Central World, Siam Paragon, Gaysorn Village and Central Embassy, which are close to each other in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district. These offer any brand you can think of. You must also give the Chatuchak Weekend Market a try because it is a shopping haven for those looking for bespoke apparel and accessories, furniture, electronics and more. The Asiatique The Riverfront is a quaint complex of stalls, shops, entertainment and eateries that is like a mini-Bangkok. It’s a must-visit for couples, because it’s a pretty romantic place in the evenings. Bangkok is like a shoppers’ heaven, so you will find something that suits your taste and budget within a few kilometres of each other.
When it comes to shopping, Kuala Lumpur is among the best in the world. The city is home to luxury brands and street markets alike. To satiate your high-end appetite, head to the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Shopping Mall, Suria KLCC or The Garden. For a more bespoke experience, visit exclusive boutiques in Bangsar, a suburb on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. In fact, all around the city there are nook and corner that can offer surprisingly good bargains.
There’s enough to do in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur for days, but a good weekend will leave you satisfied and happy, and ready for the flight home in comfort.